It. Is. Time. Gone are the Bo1s and in come the Bo5s: five teams enter the LCOs playoffs, but only one can emerge as the league’s first Worlds representative, punching a ticket to Shanghai in the process.
First on up in the LCO’s three-week playoffs run is the upper bracket semifinal, where we’ll see two of the region’s stalwarts come face to face.
Order and the Dire Wolves come together to determine who will match up against minor premiers Pentanet on Wednesday in the upper bracket final. There’s also a path out for the loser too; defeat sees one of these two teams drop into the lower half of the bracket to face the victor of today’s other clash, Chiefs and Peace.
Both Oceanic challengers come into the bracket with a 14-7 record to their names, but how they got to this position are two very different stories.
Different paths, same LCO goal
Wolfpack rise back to third
The Dire Wolves started off their split slowly. 2-5 after their first round robin, the team looked all kinds of disjointed and basically sat as a non-contender. Since then, the Wolves have had the hottest form in the league, winning 12 of their last 14, including the last six games of the season — the last of which were emphatic wins over the Chiefs and their first playoff opponents.
Last split saw them drop out of playoffs in straight sets against Peace and the Chiefs, 3-0 and 3-1 respectively, and the team will be eyeing a far better finish this time around. The Dire Wolves roster suits the current League of Legends meta, and with no changes coming (playoffs on the same patch) they’re in the driver’s seat.
The Wolfpack is in hot form, and they look able to win through all five roles of the map. This team will be a threat to everyone in the playoffs.
Order look to continue LCO upsets
On the other side of the Rift, we will see the Melbourne-based Order lineup, a team that has been consistent throughout the split but stumbling at the last hurdle coming into this playoff series.
The team racked up a 7-5 record before the start Week 6, then charged into title contetion with a seven-game winning streak (one win against each LCO team). That was brought to a halt in Week 9, at the hands of the Wolfpack, and then substitute mid laner Andrew “Ark” Chun couldn’t keep up against a rejuvenated Peace lineup in the closing game.
Order comes into the postseason hungry to find success.
After being swept by the Chiefs in the first round of the lower bracket last split, Order will look to not only get their first playoff game win of the season but progress as far as possible; their eyes will be firmly set on the big dance.
The Order team that does come into this playoffs is a different beast than the one that fell out of the playoffs early and easily last split. The midseason saw a shakeup in the jungle with Shane “Kevy” Allen joining the team after spending most of Split 1 on the bench of Peace and the Dire Wolves. Kevy breathed new life into the Melbourne squad, bringing an MVP-Caliber performance they desperately needed.
Kevy vs Only — Eyes on the jungle
Looking at the head-to-head for this matchup, Order took it this split 2-1 and 3-2 this year, although most of the matches were relatively close affairs. This matchup should be explosive: these two teams boast Worlds aspirations, and will be looking to go any length to get the win.
In this series, the jungle matchup will be critical.
Jordan “Only” Middleton and Kevy are both able to control the map in their favour with relative ease, whilst also being able to carry the game as needed. Whoever is able to get their jungler a favourable matchup more often in draft could be a critical factor in this game.
This series will come down to whichever team will hold their nerve the most. In what I expect to be a back and forth matchup, the team more able to shrug off a loss and get back into the next game better should be the victor.
I expect this matchup to go the distance.
We should hear the Dodo Sin, Silver Scrapes, or whatever your preferred Game 5 music is, before this series is concluded. Ultimately, I expect Order to be the one to hold their nerve just that little bit more and clutch the series, 3-2.
The LCO Split 2 playoffs begin tonight at a special time of 5pm. Tune in on Twitch at twitch.tv/LCO to watch the first postseason series unfold.